READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 27th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 27th

Bill Would Move H2A Program to USDA

A bill introduced earlier this month into the House of Representatives (H.R. 281) is titled the Family Farm Relief Act, dealing specifically with immigration. Politico’s Morning Ag Report says the legislation is sponsored by New York Republicans Elise Stefanik and Chris Collins and would move the H2A immigration program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture. Stefanik says the program would “be in the hands of those who best understand the specific needs of our farms.” The bill would also let applicants fill out an application online or a paper application. It would require a more user-friendly online system. The bill would bring an end to “burdensome requirements on advertising and prevailing practice surveys.” The legislation would let farm cooperatives and other agriculture groups apply for workers for their members. The dairy and livestock industries have struggled with the H2A program and this legislation aims to make the system more workable for both groups. Stefanik represents a rural district in New York that has a large number of dairy farms. Collins is one of the closest allies on Capitol Hill of President Donald Trump.


GIPSA Proposals Delayed 60 Days

President Trump has put a 60-day review opportunity in place for his appointees and that will delay any pending regulations that were to be put in place by the Obama administration. A Pork Network Dot Com article says the review period includes a new regulation put in place by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) called the Farmer Fair Practice Rules. The rule falls under the umbrella of the Packers and Stockyards Act, with the idea behind the rules to level the playing field for farmers who may have been retaliated against by meatpackers, especially contract poultry growers. Several major Ag groups against the new rules include the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, the North American Meat Institute, and the National Chicken Council. Groups in favor of the change include the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the National Farmers Union, and the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund. The new administration has until March 21 to act on the new GIPSA rules.  


Dicamba Herbicide Lawsuit Cites Endangered Species Concerns

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit over the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last year to allow the sale of Monsanto’s XtendiMax, a combination of dicamba and glyphosate. Groups filing the suit include the National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Pesticide Action Network of North America. The suit was filed on January 20 in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A Bloomberg report says the groups cite health concerns due to increasing pesticide exposure and the eventual evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds as grounds to rescind the approval, which EPA gave on November 9, 2016. The Petition for review accuses the EPA of violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act in issuing the approval for the product. The groups also say the EPA failed to consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service on whether or not the herbicide is a danger to plants and animals listed under the Endangered Species Act. XtendiMax is designed to be used on soybean and cotton plants that have been genetically engineered to resist the herbicide.


Cattlemen Applaud Death Tax Repeal Legislation

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applauded the introduction of legislation designed to kill the estate tax. A Beef U.S.A. Dot Org article says the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2017 was introduced by Republican John Thune of South Dakota and by Representatives Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Georgia Democrat Sanford Bishop. “As a fourth-generation cattle producer,” said NCBA President Tracy Brunner, “I can attest that the death tax can wreak havoc with agricultural families and it’s long past time we kill it once and for all.” NCBA has long pressed for a permanent repeal of the death tax. 96 percent of American farms are owned by families who are asset-rich and cash poor. Most of the typical estate value comes from assets like land, livestock, and the machinery farmers use in production. The death tax often forces families to pay based on the non-liquid value of those assets. Brunner added, “We thank Senator Thune and Representatives Noem and Bishop for introducing this common-sense bill and hope that Congress will pass it as soon as possible.”


Japan Hesitant to Invite China into TPP

Japan isn’t enthusiastic about inviting China into a pacific-rim trade deal abandoned by the U.S.A., fearing increased clout from Beijing and loosening the standards on what it calls “the gold standard for trade rules.” Government officials don’t appear in a hurry to begin two-way trade talks with Washington, although some officials said they can’t rule it out. The Japanese Prime Minister said he won’t comment on trade talks with the U.S. until President Trump’s cabinet has been chosen and eventual policies become clearer. Australia and New Zealand said they hope to save the Trans-Pacific Partnership by asking China and other countries to join in. Chile has invited the ministers from TPP countries, along with China and South Korea, to a summit in March to discuss how the deal can move forward, which won’t happen after U.S. withdrawal without changing the rules of the deal.  


Americans to Eat 1.33 Billion Chicken Wings

American consumption of what’s becoming a Super Bowl weekend staple, chicken wings, is expected to hit 1.33 billion wings. That number comes from a National Chicken Council Report and represents a two percent jump, or about 30 million wings, over last year’s report. It’s 6.5 percent higher, or 80 million wings, over the 2015 Wing Report. To get an idea of how many wings that is, if you laid 1.3 billion wings end to end, they would stretch from Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta almost 80 times. To put it another way, 1.33 billion wings weighs over 166 million pounds, 338 times more than the combined weights of all 32 NFL teams. As New England gets set to face Atlanta, those two regions eat their share of wings. Patriots country in the northeast U.S. eats 12 percent more wings than other regions in the country, while down south in Falcons country they eat 13 percent more than other regions.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service